There are many classifications of disorder and dysfunction associated with traumatic stress in early childhood. For instance; Dissociative Identity Disorder (or other Dissociative Disorder), Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Bipolar, Borderline Personality Disorder, Reactive Attachment Disorder, etc.

But it is my opinion (and rapidly becoming the opinion of others) that these categories as described in The American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM IV) are merely a grouping together of symptoms to create a label, where these symptoms do not actually seem to be fixed to each category. This provides the basis for much of the controversy that surrounds the taxonomies supplied by DSM IV. I would hypothesise that much of this labelling was more motivated by individual clinicians who desire to make a name for themselves than by any altruistic motive to understand and contribute towards our understanding of mental health. The labelling would suggest that these symptoms are in a somewhat fixed state without much crossover, but it is my opinion and observation that these symptoms are changeable and can come in waves, suggesting a far more fluid and temperamental unfixed state, where many different symptoms can manifest under different inner and outer environmental stimuli.

Some symptoms associated with traumatic stress in early childhood;

Psychogenic amnesia ~ selective forgetfulness of emotional memories. Memories lost temporarily can be either good emotional memories or bad ones. For instance a person can be temporarily overwhelmed by the bad memories associated with a relationship yet unable to recall any of the good ones (if this is the case then it may be suggested that we all to some extent or another suffer from psychogenic amnesia). This can be a symptom of amygdala hijack, where, as a defensive strategy initiated by unconscious areas of the brain, selective memories are blocked in order to encourage an outcome that will remove a person from an unconscious or consciously perceived threat.

Impairment in cognitive development ~ essentially some impairment in higher reasoning or thinking. For instance; mathematical calculations or any other complex thought process that involves multiple processes

Emotional regulation ~ frequent episodes of unexplainable or inappropriate rage, swinging between excessive positive and negative emotional states, repeated relational difficulties.

Impulse control ~ acting out on impulses without consideration of consequences, effects on others, etc.

Stress regulation ~ responding inappropriately to minor stresses as if the event is life threatening, or vice versa, responding to events that others might consider highly stressful or risky, as if there was nothing to fear.

These form the basis of all the symptoms of the plethora of classifications and diagnosis put forward by DSM IV.

All the above a symptoms of dysfunction in the prefrontal cortex and it’s pathways to other parts of the brain, especially the hippocampus and amygdala. This dysfunction is brought about by elevated stress levels producing cortisol during the brains development. Small doses are easily coped with, but high or prolonged periods of stress are highly damaging to the brain and it’s development. The cortisol has the effect of reducing development in all areas of the brain not associated with survival and reacting or responding to threat or danger.The organism rushes to develop areas associated with dealing with danger, while all other areas of cognitive development are reduced or halted. Larger Amygdala, and reduced hippocampus and neocortex volume are commonly found in cases of extreme or prolonged developmental stress.

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